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Exp Brain Res. 1991;85(3):641-9.

Visual and vestibular signals in the lateral mesencephalic tegmental region of the cat.

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Department of Neurology, University of Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Single unit recordings from two alert cats were used in an attempt to further elucidate the function of the lateral mesencephalic tegmental region (LTR), a part of the mesencephalon forming a link between the superior colliculus and the lower brain stem. A total of 155 units recorded from the LTR were tested with visual, vestibular and acoustic stimuli. Of these, 54 cells (36%) were characterized as either visually (n = 33) or vestibularly (n = 21) responsive and an additional 13 cells were driven by complex acoustic stimuli. Visually responsive cells typically were directionally selective with large, mainly contralateral receptive fields. Vestibularly responsive cells were modulated by stimulation of either the horizontal canals (yaw stimulation; n = 16) or of both pairs of vertical canals (pitch stimulation; n = 5). About half of the cells with activity modulated by rotation about the yaw axis increased discharge during ipsiversive (Type I), the other half during contraversive rotation (Type II). Of the 5 cells with activity modulated by pitch stimulation, 4 preferred the nose-down and only 1 the nose-up direction. Although the discharge of units responsive to yaw stimulation was roughly in phase with head velocity (mean phase lag with respect to head velocity: 10.6 deg), none of the vestibular cells had activity correlated with eye position, eye velocity or movement of visual stimuli. Our observations suggest that the LTR might introduce visual and vestibular signals into the tecto- facial pathway which may be used to adjust the size of pinna movements with respect to the size of ongoing head- or body movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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